Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
Many churches have long since abandoned preaching a “thus saith the Lord” message. The “positive mental attitude” brand of preaching has won the day among denominationalists. The change is having its impact upon gospel preachers in churches of Christ, too. The fruit is being borne: sermons that are long on stories and short on Scriptures; sermons that please the ear but leave the soul starving; sermons that are remembered for their eloquence rather than their content. It remains true that people live and thrive on “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). It is the “word of the truth of the gospel” that gives heavenly hope (Col. 1:5). Have we forgotten?
We need gospel preaching. The gospel is the power of God to save the lost (Rom. 1:16). The gospel produces faith, providing correct knowledge of “Him who called us” so that by God’s power we obtain “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (Rom. 10:17; 2 Pet. 1:3). Why would gospel preachers want to preach anything else? Why are some gospel preachers content with preaching less than “the whole counsel of God?” What makes a “good” sermon: cute stories and the entertaining fashion of its presentation? (Of course there is a proper place for illustrations in gospel preaching – Jesus used them and so can we. But, like Jesus, our illustrations must not be the point and purpose of our preaching; sometimes that line is blurred.) Or, is a sermon “good” because it contains a scriptural message anchored in sound, Biblical support (1 Cor. 2:1-5; 1 Ths. 5:17)? Gospel preachers are not entertainers. Gospel preachers are not after dinner speakers. Preachers and all other Christians need to remember the difference or souls will be lost (1 Tim. 4:6, 11, 16). We need gospel preaching, and God requires gospel preaching of us (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
We need gospel learning. Gospel preaching helps accomplish gospel learning. Like Cornelius and his guests, we must desire to hear “all things that have been commanded” from the Lord, not the quips, wit and wisdom of men (Acts 10:33). Some want only the milk of God’s word, but we must grow in our learning and use of the Bible. Milk is good and necessary, but a diet only consisting of first principles (milk) will not bring us to maturity in Christ (Heb. 5:12-6:3). We must also eat meat and “go on to perfection.” We need gospel learning, and God requires gospel learning of us (2 Tim. 2:15).
We need gospel living. Learning the gospel will not help us unless we live it. Jesus teaches us to bear the fruit of the Father’s will in our lives (Lk. 8:15; Matt. 7:21). Early Christians were exhorted to “continue in the faith,” and so must we (Acts 14:22). We do not live the gospel if we do not have gospel preaching and gospel learning (Rom. 10:13-15). Why? We cannot live by faith if we fail to hear and believe that which produces faith, the word of God. We need gospel living, and God requires gospel living of us (Tit. 2:11-12; Rom. 12:1-2).
There are elements of child-rearing that mothers simply cannot accomplish alone. The greatest mother cannot replace a father. Neither can step-dads, boyfriends, or other males.
This isn’t an assault on mothers. It is a plea to recognize the critical role God has given fathers.
There was a day when this was broadly understood. But the popular notion today is that a mother can work a little harder and be both mom and dad. Or, that another man can step in and do the job, after the real father has failed to many the mother, divorced her, or himself been divorced.
That mothers cannot do a father’s job is in evidence all around us. Child poverty, juvenile crime, an epidemic of unwed pregnancy, and growing violence against women by young men are just a few tell-tale signs.
God designed and defined fathers as the primary providers for their families. This includes physical provision (1 Tim. 5:8). And more importantly, it involves spiritual provision (Eph. 6:4).
A mother can partially provide for these needs. But not like a father. The leading cause of poverty in the U.S., particularly child poverty, is the fatherless home. This is true despite the fact that more women today work than ever before.
Ask any Christian woman who is a single mother about the increased difficulty of raising children to be faithful to the Lord without a father’s help.
Fathers also have a unique ability to provide identity, character, and competence to their offspring. Without fathers, children often encounter problems understanding who they are and what they ought to be like. Fathers provide their children a “name” and all the expectations that such identity entails. If you don’t understand the significance of this, talk to a child whose father skipped out and whose mother wears another man’s name.
Joshua’s words ring out over the centuries as he publicly identified who he was and where his family would stand. “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” he said.
Joshua was providing for his family’s spiritual welfare. He also was doing something else that fathers are specially designed for — leadership.
Mothers certainly can lead. There are plenty of Bible examples. And they are to be obeyed by their children. But there is an element of family leadership that uniquely belongs to fathers. Righteous fathers exhibit a foresight, a commitment to the well-being of their families, and a sense of self-sacrifice that is exhibited in daily action. It often is demonstrated in doing jobs they don’t enjoy — because they have a family to support.
While mothers nurture their young through a compassionate caring for present needs, fathers nurture with a longer view. Mothers often tend to over-protection, while fathers give latitude designed to encourage independent living, risk-taking, and the skills necessary to launch their children as competent adults.
Both roles are critical. But God’s design of male and female doesn’t provide for one sex assuming both roles.
One of the most critical roles fathers exercise, that mothers can’t match, is in the assertion of authority. Whether it is the male’s generally stronger physique, his more direct and assertive mode of communication, or elements we can’t readily put our fingers on — fathers can anticipate more responsive obedience than a mother by herself.
That this is God’s design is evident from passages like Genesis 18:19. In fact, a wife herself is to be subject to his authority (Eph. 5:22-24, 33; Col. 3:18).
This sets a physical pattern for a most critical spiritual lesson. A father on earth has authority (power) and is to be obeyed. A wife and mother teaches that fact to her children not just with words but with her own submission. Thus, children are given a physical demonstration of both authority and submission, foundational principles that lead to respect of their Heavenly Father’s authority.
Strip family life of a father’s power and you usually get children without a model for submission to any sort of authority save their own lusts. Sin and lostness result (1 John 2:15-17).
Fathers usually have the “power” to provide a type of righteous “man-handling” that every child needs, particularly in the teenage years.
Many single moms who think they have been doing pretty good find out differently when their children become teen-agers. The teenage boy tempted to sass his mother, fears his father’s wrath. The I4-year-old girl who might convince her mother to let her date a boy five years older, fears what dad will say — and probably do!
That’s because fathers also bring a “protective” quality to the family that goes beyond what a mother can provide. Boys in single-parent homes may rebel against mom, even hit her. But few will dare strike dad’s wife. Young girls may not know what most teenage boys are looking for on a date — but dad does and he doesn’t intend to see his daughter hurt.
Like Noah, the righteous father protects his family from physical and spiritual harm.
He puts the welfare of his family ahead of his own and thus paints a human picture of the divine Father. Through this modeling children learn true character, self-discipline, deferred gratification, morality, sexual roles, and the means to be parents themselves.
No super-mom can fill a father’s
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 128
1. World needs genuine
fathers who love God & His word; fathers of faith, fathers with character &
courage to meet the challenges of fatherhood, Eph. 6:4.
I. FATHERS ARE PROGENITORS.
Fathers Give Life to their Children, Gen. 5:3.
II. FATHERS ARE PROVIDERS, 2 Cor. 12:14-15.
Fathers Provide Many Things for Families.
III. FATHERS ARE PROTECTORS, Gen. 45:7-8.
Protect from Physical Harm, Matt. 7:9-10.
IV. A CONTRAST OF TWO FATHERS:
Abraham: A Father God Trusted, Gen. 19:18.
Conclusion: A father’s joy & reward (3 Jno. 4; Prov. 23:15-16); a father’s responsibility (Eph. 6:4).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Mark 3:22-30
Question: Can we review blasphemy? If all sins including blasphemy are forgiven according to Mark 3:28, why does verse 29 say that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven?
I. WHAT IS THE SIN OF BLASPHEMY? Mk. 7:22
A. To Speak Against,
Speak Evil of, Rail Against God. Acts 6:11; Jno. 10:33, 36; Matt. 26:65-66;
II. WHAT IS BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT? Mk. 3:29-30 (Matt. 12:31-32; Lk. 12:10)
A. Mark of Messiah:
Presence of the Spirit of God, Isa. 42:1-4 (Matt. 12:15-21; Lk. 4:17-21).
III. IS THERE EVER FORGIVENESS FOR BLASPHEMING THE HOLY SPIRIT?
A. Principles to
Remember, 1 Tim. 1:15; He. 4:2.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA